Funding for compost service an ‘interim step’ as Winnipeg mulls citywide pickup program

A local social enterprise offering compost collection services in Winnipeg got a funding boost from the city, as it winds down a two-year pilot project to test a possible full-scale organic waste pickup program.

Compost Winnipeg, an initiative of the non-profit Green Action Centre, will receive $65,000 through the 2022 compost support program, which the city offered as part of its residential food waste collection pilot program, after a Friday decision by a city committee.

The pilot offered curbside organic waste collection to nearly 4,000 households in five neighborhoods: Daniel McIntyre, Inkster Gardens, Linden Woods, Linden Ridge, Mission Gardens and St. George.

That program ends this month, with a report to city council due next year, at which point council is expected to make a decision on whether to proceed with a citywide project, said Robin Bryan, a consultant and former general manager for Compost Winnipeg.

With that decision coming and the pilot ending, the money approved Friday “is an interim measure to basically support our programming, to see if we can keep increasing diversion rates and reach harder-to-access communities,” Bryan said.

Compost Winnipeg currently serves around 1,000 single-family residences, as well as 200 commercial customers, including apartment buildings.

Compost Winnipeg will use part of $65,000 in funding from the City of Winnipeg’s residential food waste collection pilot program to purchase a new collection truck. (Submitted by Compost Winnipeg)

The new funding will largely go towards supporting outreach efforts to get more multi-family dwellings on board, Bryan said. Property managers and caretakers of multi-family properties have shown interest in the program, but need help educating tenants and getting the buy-in needed for success, he said.

It will also help purchase a new collection truck, allowing Compost Winnipeg to reach more residential customers.

The service charges $360 for the year or $35 per month. Part of the funding will go toward offering the first three months of service free for up to 100 new customers who sign up, Bryan said.

The total cost of the project is $221,761, and will last until March 2023.

‘Interim step’

The city’s water and waste committee unanimously approved the grant to the program at its meeting on Friday.

“I think it’s money well spent, so I’m pleased to see Compost Winnipeg [and] Green Action Center takes advantage of this,” committee chair Coun. Brian Mayes (St. Vital) said during the meeting.

The funding is an “interim step” between the end of the pilot program and a revisiting of the program expected after the Oct. 26 civic election, Mayes said.

“[The] the next city council is going to have to debate the issue. The pilot will be done, that information will be in front of the next council, but we can do this in the interim.”

Diverting organic waste from landfills plays a significant role in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Compost Winnipeg’s goal is to divert 100 percent of the city’s food waste.

“This goes a long way towards that, and really just kind of cements a sense that … the City of Winnipeg and Compost Winnipeg are really partners in a shared goal of finding a solution to this problem, and we’re really grateful for that, Bryan said.

Should council decide to go ahead with a citywide collection program, Compost Winnipeg intends to bid on a request for proposals to provide that service, he said.

Winnipeg has been debating organic waste collection for a long time, and is one of the last large Canadian cities without a program. Halifax, for example, has been collecting organics since 1998.

City council originally approved an organic waste collection pilot project in 2011. It was slated to start in 2014, but was put off several times.

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